Leeds Rhinos confirm signing of centre from Leigh Leopards

Leeds Rhinos have finally confirmed the signing of Papua New Guinea international Nene Macdonald from Leigh Leopards.

Macdonald has signed a two-year contract at Headingley and will join up with the Rhinos with immediate effect.

The powerful centre is reunited with Rhinos Head Coach Rohan Smith, who coached him at Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup.

Macdonald started all four games for PNG at the recent Rugby League World Cup, the third World Cup of his career already, having helped Leigh to promotion last season from the Championship into Super League.

He scored a remarkable 27 tries in 27 appearances for the Leopards last season having joined the club from Norths Devils where Rohan Smith’s old club powered to Grand Final glory in 2021.

Macdonald has played nearly 100 games in the NRL with Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast Titans, St George Illawarra Dragons, North Queensland Cowboys and Cronulla Sharks, as well as representing Queensland at Under 20 level.

He will team up with his international team-mate Rhyse Martin at the Rhinos, having been part of the Kumuls progress to the World Cup Quarter Finals alongside each other.

Commenting on his signing Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Rohan Smith said, “I am delighted to be bringing Nene to the Rhinos. He is a big, physical player who can play either at centre or on the wing.

“He can break tackles and offload the ball to keep the team on the front foot. He is maturing in his life and his rugby and I know his young family have settled really well to life in the UK over the last year.

“I think his best years are ahead of him and I am looking forward to seeing him develop even further at the Rhinos.”

Looking ahead to joining up with the Rhinos, Macdonald said, “I am very excited and I can’t wait to join up with the Rhinos. This is why you play the game, for the chance to be at the top level and really test myself, especially with a great team like the Rhinos.

“I am really grateful to Leigh for the opportunity they gave me last year. I was pleased I could play my part in helping them return to Super League. My wife and son love it over here and it was definitely a good decision to come over.

“I can’t wait to put a Rhinos jumper on, I have heard about how crazy the fans are, and I am excited to play in front of big crowds because you don’t get that sort of passion over in Australia,” added Macdonald.

It was also confirmed the Rhinos will play a warm-up Game ahead of the 2023 Betfred Super League season against Leigh at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday 22 January 2023, with kick-off and ticket details to be confirmed shortly.

The two teams will compete for the Bev Risman Trophy in honour of the celebrated dual international who served both the Leigh and Leeds clubs with distinction.

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